Case n. 16/2017
- By : Christoph Kolonko
- 22 September 2017
When can I use the word “revolution” in cosmetic advertisement?
Executive summary of the decision of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Body no. 16/2017
1. Marketing communications challenged before the IAP (Advertising Self-Regulatory Body)
L’Oréal Italia S.p.A. (“Oreal”) against the advertising campaign concerning the new “Nivea Cellular anti-age” products marketed by Beiersdorf S.p.A. (“Beiersdorf”).
Challenged market communications: “anti-age revolution”; the voice over stating “the greatest concentration of hyaluronic acid” with a small written disclaimer specifying “among the Nivea products”, “the product line which has captured the 95% of women who use luxury creams”.
2. Legal arguments of Oreal
(i) Misleading advertisement (Article 2) combined with comparative advertisement (Article 15):
- “revolution” requires an absolute novelty in the area of the anti-age products;
- “greatest concentration” is referred to Nivea products, but consumers cannot understand it;
- “95% of women using luxury products”, such products are not specified;
(ii) Denigrating advertisement (Article 14):
- unspoken denigration of similar Oreal’s products marketed via various channels of sale.
3. Legal arguments of Beiersdorf
- innovative patented formula: “revolution” as per the degree of satisfaction among the consumers;
- clear indication that the “greatest concentration” was among Nivea products, no claim of superiority or comparison;
- “95% of women”, Beiersdorf provided the IAP with the results of its tests;
4. Opinion of the Control Committee
Infringement of Article 2 of the IAP Code (misleading marketing communication) as per the claims “anti-age revolution” and “greatest concentration of hyaluronic acid”.
5. Decision of the Giurì
Breach of Article 2 for the following reasons:
- the Giurì assumes that any statistical data provided by the parties is correct, since it would be counterproductive for a company to advertise false information about the consumers’ satisfaction;
- no evidence provided in order to challenge the fairness of the tests conducted by Beiersdorf;
- “greatest concentration of hyaluronic acid”: ambiguous communication, but it is admissible because of the commercial need to communicate the characteristics of the formula in a short way;
- “revolution”, word much used in the advertisements, it is allowed only in case of effective innovations which change the relevant market and from which the consumers may take advantage;
- the relevant Nivea products do not have such characteristics, the patents are not easy to understand, there is a lack of evidence about the advantages of the new formula, there is a lack of analytical comparison with the formula of other products of the same price range;
- Beiersdorf was ordered to interrupt the use of the word “revolution” in such marketing communications.
No comparative advertisement (Article 15) nor denigrating advertisement (Article 14):
- claims based on consumers’ satisfaction about own products are allowed;
- the marketing communications do not make any comparison between consumers’ satisfaction about products marketed by different competitors’ products;
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